OSAKA – The Osaka High Court on Thursday overturned a lower court’s guilty verdict of a man accused of forging official documents and using them to help a fictitious organization abuse the postal discount system for disabled people.
The court said Tadashi Kono, 71, who once belonged to a group called Rin-no-kai that claims to be working for the disabled, may have been coerced into confessing during interrogations.
The Osaka District Court sentenced Kono in May 2010 to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years. Kono is one of three codefendants of Atsuko Muraki, 56, a former head of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s Equal Employment, Children and Families Bureau, who was also acquitted over the fraud case.
In Thursday’s decision, presiding Judge Sumio Matoba said Kono might have been induced by prosecutors to plead guilty by telling him that his detention and bail would depend on his attitude.
Muraki was acquitted in September 2010 after she was indicted for involvement in forging a document allowing a fictitious group to use postage discounts for the disabled. A key prosecutor was later convicted of tampering with evidence in the case.